Moments before he boarded the plane en route to the UN General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved an NIS 3 billion cut in the Defense Ministry's budget, Ynet has learned from sources close to the prime minister.
The money saved is slated to fund the recommendations of the Trachtenberg committee on social reform.
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The decision marks a significant victory for the 'tent protest' as one of its central demands was changing national budgetary priorities. On the other hand, the cut is a blow to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The Defense Ministry on Wednesday evening denied that such cuts had been decided on.
Netanyahu signed the framework for amending the defense budget for the fiscal years 2012 and 2013, as drafted by his bureau chief Eyal Gabai.
According to the framework, NIS 3 billion will be slashed from the 2012 defense budget and an additional NIS 3 billion in 2013. However, in 2012, the Defense Ministry will gain significant tax breaks that amount to NIS 1.5 billion, making the de facto cut to its budget only NIS 1.5 billion for that year.
Last week, Barak slammed Treasury officials for saying that Israel's defense budget should be cut to finance social programs.
"The Defense Ministry is prepared to do its part to achieve social change, but only as part of an inclusive, wide-scope plan that would include a true, realistic examination of the security situation," he said. "There is a storm all around us, and there are challenges from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran."
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